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Centre Region Council of Governments
CENTRE REGIONPARKSAND RECREATIONBOARD
CENTRE REGIONAL RECREATION AUTHORITY
2643 Gateway Drive #1, State College, PA 16801-3885
(814) 231-3071                                                Fax 814.235.7832                                 E-Mail: crpr@crcog.net
Servingthe Townships of College, Ferguson, Harris, Patton, and the Borough of State College

EXTENDED AQUATICS FEASIBILITY STUDY - PUBLIC FORUM
Tuesday, 24 Aug 04, 7:30 PM, COG Building Forum Room
MEETING SUMMARY

I.         There were thirty residents in attendance, including elected officials, two school board members, swim team leaders and members, and pool neighbors. Staff members Todd Roth, Diane Ishler, Ronald Woodhead, and James Steff were also in attendance. The sign-in roster is attached, plus an email is attached from a resident that was not able to attend the forum.

II.        Todd Roth, CRPR Aquatic Supervisor, introduced Mr. Woodhead & Mrs. Ishler, COG Executive Director James Steff, and Architect Alan Popovich. Mr. Roth made a computerized presentation regarding the history of the pools, community & facility needs, a summary of the original Feasibility Study, and the Extended Feasibility Study. It was noted that the extended study provides recommendations and options for action; any future progress will be pending official authorization from the COG General Forum and the participating municipalities.

III.       The meeting was then opened for questions and comments from the public: 

Betty Moore, State College Borough, likes Welch in the neighborhood where her family has done their swimming for years. She is glad to see the option of keeping the pool at least close by (at the proposed Waupelani site). She doesn’t want the pool to move out of the area. Also, she wanted to know if there is going to be an option for a third pool in the future due to population growth. Mr. Roth indicated that may be in the future but the main goal right now to get the two pools we have up to standards and increased capacity.

Jim Steff, Executive Director COG, asked what the advantages and disadvantages of building a third pool in a new location would be. Mr. Roth indicated the biggest advantage would be convenience; people like to have a neighborhood pool. The disadvantages of a third pool would be the costs and having enough qualified personnel. Mr. Woodhead added that we need to upgrade Welch Pool (due to its age). If we build a third pool, we would still have to deal with Welch Pool and the related costs. The recommendation is that we “bite the bullet” and do something about Welch Pool before a third pool is considered.

Tom Daubert, State College Borough Council, stated he has been a season pass holder at Welch pool for 32 years and has visited approximately 2,500 times but has found it overcrowded maybe 25 times. He doesn’t believe that overcrowding should be an issue.

Eileen Carrello, College Township, has been taking her daughters swimming at Welch and has never found it overcrowded.

Janet Knauer, State College Borough Council, asked if a cost was available for each of the options and would these costs be included as part of the presentation to the elected officials in Sept. Mr. Roth indicated that costs are not available for all the options. Ms. Knauer then indicated that it would be better when presented to have approximate costs for the options.

Sue Antle, Harris Township and swim team parent, stated that when she is there it is really crowded, especially when the groups are there from 1:00-3:00 PM.

Mary Baumer, State College Borough and lifeguard/instructor for CRRA, stated that many day care centers and camps near Welch come to swim there. When the groups are there, it is very crowded; increased capacity is needed.

Diane Farnsworth, Ferguson Township, likes have a local pool (Welch) and wants to keep in the neighborhood. Wants to know if there might be a problem acquiring the land on Waupelani mentioned as an option. Her fear is that this option would be chosen and then something would happen that the land would not be available. Mr. Roth indicated the purchase would be additional expense - but that no discussions have been held with the owners, so the answer is not known. She also wanted to know if the Welch pool site was moved to Waupelani Drive, would the current site remain operational until the new site was open. Mr. Roth indicated as long as the pool was operational it would remain open until the new pool was open. However, if the Welch current site was used there may be some time without Welch Pool (about a month in one summer and one month in the next year) for construction.

Sue Antle, Harris Township, stated that it looks like there would be a lot more space at the Waupelani site.

Karen Foard, Ferguson Township and swim team parent, talked about the fact that swim teams have too many children to manage effectively. She also indicated that Park Forest is too shaded and that after 5:00 PM no one goes to the pool because it is too cold. She is tickled to have something happening at Park Forest - sometimes it feels like the poor relative of Welch. She also expressed her opinion that deciding what to do with Welch would have a great deal to do with what the School District is doing since they have their own building issues.

Pernille Boving, State College Borough, she is frustrated because the process seems to be where it was two years ago and everyone is still just talking about doing something. She collected signatures before and can do it again. She agrees that the pool needs to be renovated but does not want it moved out of the neighborhood; Waupelani Drive would be fine. She also indicated that when the process takes so long, you lose momentum. She wanted to know if this meeting was going to be the only opportunity for people to voice their opinion. Mr. Roth related that this would be presented at the General Forum meeting on Sept. 27. Mr. Steff answered that the General Forum was one opportunity but the study would be sent out to the municipalities for comment. That allows six more opportunities to voice your comments (one at each municipal meeting).

Jim Knauer, State College Borough, commented on the fact that the study says that municipal contributions (for operations) will go away because the pools will be self-supporting. He wanted to know if there were projections showing this increase in pool revenue and decrease in municipal contributions. Mr. Roth indicated that the projections were in the first study that was completed. Mr. Knauer asked was the revenue from increased fees? Mr. Roth relayed that daily admissions would not increase significantly but that pool passes would increase. The increased revenue would be derived from increased number of visits.

Betty Moore, State College Borough, wondered what the impact of the YMCA indoor pools on CRRA pools had been. Mr. Roth indicated that the only effect had been the loss of the YMCA campers daily admissions. She also wanted to know what was included in the planning for senior programs. Mr. Roth stated that some design features include zero depth entry, all day swim lap lanes, and additional space for adult programs. More programs are offered as people request them.

Mary Baumer, Park Forest, asked if the all day swim lap lanes were available, would some time be taken during the day to provide other adult water programs? Mr. Roth indicated that would depend on the requests received from adults.

A question was asked as to what “future aquatics expansion” meant (the areas identified on the concept plans for each site). What type of expansion? Mr. Roth explained that they wanted to design so that in the future other items could be added depending on what people wanted. Some have expressed a desire for a 50 meter pool, some would like to see a separate children’s water splash area, eight lanes instead of six. When the master plan is established and there are real cost numbers more lanes may be added (only if it keeps project under the cost estimates).

Jim Myers, Harris Township and swim team parent, related that if you agree with the information presented, he sees only two options: (1) to replace Welch on the current site with larger pool or (2) to build the pool at another location. When looking at the proposed time line - can Welch Pool last that long. He asked what happens if Welch goes down - where will that leave the community? Mr. Roth related that it was discussed at the CRRA meeting and we would use the HS pool as much as possible, but the idea is to work through the necessary steps as quickly as possible.

Diane Farnsworth, Harris Township, asked if there were any health issues everyone should be aware of since on certain days the water is cloudy. Mr. Roth said there are no health issues relating to people swimming there, but if the State of Pennsylvania tightens their standards (such as following the ASTM standards, like many states around the country), it could get very complicated for us to continue operations.

Janet Knauer, State College Borough Council, following up on Jim’s comments wondered if it was possible to rearrange the time line for Welch since it is in bad shape. Is the Welch pool in worse shape than the PF pool; shouldn’t it be fixed first? Mr. Roth stated that the original proposal was to have Welch first but there are two factors that changed that thinking. The grant process needed for the projects only has two windows of opportunity to apply for grants - fall (planning, acquisition, and development grants) and spring (planning and acquisition grants only). We wanted to start the process as soon as possible and didn’t think we could get the Welch options resolved in time to apply this spring - but Park Forest might be ready to apply for a Master Site Plan grant. Ms. Knauer indicated that when Mr. Roth makes his presentation before COG in September and others see the condition of the pool, the financial numbers are less, and Welch is less controversial, maybe the time line could be move up for Welch.

Pernille Boving, State College Borough, stated that there are two options: rebuild Welch were it is or build it on the Waupelani site (and not in some cornfield). Mr. Roth answered that the Whitehall tract originally thought to be a good idea is presently out of the picture and the Circleville tract hasn’t contacted CRRA about this and little is known about when and if that will happen. So we are proceeding with the options we know.

Rick Madore, College Township, told everyone that the people in 1957 were truly visionaries to have built a pool that has lasted almost 50 years and served the community wonderfully. This is our opportunity (elected officials, residents, young or old) to be equally visionary. Now it needs replaced; not because of the workmanship of the people who built it, but because it is aging. We need to look positively at what we can do to provide a facility that will last and will be an asset to the community. Mr. Madore was a pool manager for Welch in the 1980s and cannot believe that the pool is still together and functioning. When he looks at the time line, he wonders how Welch will last that long. He agrees that Park Forest should go first, but is in favor of moving the Welch time line ahead. It must be done faster. This is really an opportunity to bring more people into recreational swimming and to the sport of swimming.

Karen Foard wanted to piggyback what Rick said. We are looking at trying to play with the footprints of the pools we have right now; community regional swimming activities areas. When the pools were built they were probably built as a place to go and get wet. After you added some new things to Park Forest, maybe in a few years you will have the same crowding problems that you now have at Welch. Maybe we should let Park Forest as a rectangular pool and change Welch to new site with bells and whistles. If you want to swim, you go to Park Forest. If you are interested in the other activities, you go to Welch. Maybe we need to be visionary. In other parts of the state, where there is a large aquatics pool, there are also other sports around it; basketball, baseball, tennis, etc. Also, she indicated that the property on Waupelani may have sink holes - the shopping center across the street is on sink holes.

Mary Baumer, Park Forest should go first so while Welch options are being decided there will be somewhere to swim and still have the aquatics activities. It is not the location, but everyone coming together and having a place where that can happen. The location should have adequate parking because now there is a problem with parking. There are not enough spaces and the school lots are busy with other things.

Pernille Boving - said that there is no issue with parking since school is not in session when the pools are open. People can walk to the pool or ride their bikes.

Mary Baumer, Park Forest, indicated that parking is a problem because there are a lot of activities in the summer including band practice, sports teams, etc.

Susan Antle, Harris Township, says she has to drive to the pool since there is no safe way to bring her family (without a car) to the pool from Boalsburg. Only small groups can walk to the pool; most are driving so parking is an issue. It should not keep the project from going forward, but it needs to be recognized as a problem. Mr. Roth commented that there are certain regulations for parking that must be met when rebuilding unless given leeway from municipal codes. The new design would take up all the parking spaces on site. State College Borough has been very helpful in working with us on the parking issue.

Tom Daubert, State College Borough Council, related that the Borough Council has never been officially contacted about changing the parking requirements. Mr. Roth stated that there has not been anything official, but the manager thought the Council would be willing to work with CRRA on the parking issue.

Rosemary Schwoerer, Halfmoon Township, her children swim regularly at Park Forest and has a daughter that works at the Park Forest Pool. Her daughter has really bonded with the children of that area while working at the pool. Ms. Schwoerer feels this is very important and that it is really important that we provide neighborhood pools where kids came come and bond. She also realizes that there will be a large financial commitment needed to go ahead with the pool plans. She thinks that it should be done right; not just settle for something to get it done. It is necessary to have the proper planning to get the right facilities to meet the needs of the community.

Rick Madore, College Township, reminded everyone that the Welch pool is located on State College Area School District property and that anything that is done there will require working very closely with the School District. It will also take working closely with the State College Borough for land use, parking and the drainage problem that exist in that area.

Betty Moore, State College Borough, pointed out that the pool staff have been parking in the Welch lot creating some of the parking problems. Mr. Roth indicated that staff were directed not to park in the Welch lot.

Al Voigt, College Township, read from a paper he had prepared (attached to this summary). He disagreed with the information included in the Feasibility Study, including the new facility paying for itself so municipalities would not have to help pay to operate the pools, the population information, etc. He wants the Welch pool to remain where it is, exactly as it is and keep patching. It is only a three-month facility. He also wants a place for the kids to come to learn how to swim; he feels that is very important.

Cathy Dauler, State College Borough Council, explained what happened at the Science Park Pool (Science Park Recreation Assn.) after the sink hole opened and destroyed some of the pool. They got kids together who go there and asked what they would like to see at the pool. What they found was that the kids and other patrons wanted it pretty much the way it had been. They have expanded the pool by adding two more lap lanes and the diving well had to be replaced. The shallow end has stairs across one side so kids can be in one area and still leave room for others to enter the water. It did not cost nearly as much as the consultant are saying to fix Welch pool. She wondered if we only used one consultant for both studies? From what she read, she thought maybe the consultants were connected to the people who would do the construction work. Mr. Roth reminded everyone that the dollars quoted in the study were best guess. The costs will not be known until the Master Site Plan is developed and the project goes out for bid. He also indicated that Science Park project did not have to use prevailing wage and other regulations that effect municipalities but not privately-held projects. Mr. Steff explained how the Centre Region Council of Governments purchases or selects contractors. All projects of this magnitude must be placed on the open market for bid and then selected. Mr. Roth noted that the SPRA Pool serves approximately 350 families.

Craig Humphrey, State College Borough Council and Liaison to CRRA, found the comments interesting. He is very interested in the land on Waupelani as an option for the pool. If that land was developed it may cause problems for College Township and the State College Borough, but putting the pool there would act as green space protection (vs. residential development). He had not heard that mentioned in this meeting.

Betty Moore, State College Borough, said maybe an option should be more basic even if the pool is moved. Has a basic larger pool been considered? Mr. Roth related that yes this had been considered, just a replacement pool with no amenities - maybe with the hope to phase in later. Have the children and all ages who use the pool been asked what they want? Mr. Roth indicated this was done during the initial study when a public survey was conducted in 1997. The entire original study and the extension are posted on the CRPR website. Mr. Roth had cards with his number and website information were on the table. He asked people to email or let him know of any additional comments.

Jim Myers, Harris Township, just wanted to remind people that this design is not the final, it could be changed. For him if two items are met he will be happy: a zero depth entry area and lots of space.

Tom Daubert, State College Borough Council, relayed that when this is presented to COG that an explanation of some of the costs would be important. He wanted an explanation of the dollar figure for Park Forest bathhouse. Why should it cost so much? Mr. Popovich tried to explain that concrete, block buildings with no roof are not acceptable to the public anymore. That the structures have to met certain codes and they must meet the needs of the patrons.

Bob Ascah, State College Borough and School Board member, stated that when the school board last talked about this project (Sept. or Oct. 2003) there didn’t seem to be a problem with a 25 year lease. He has never seen the North parking lot full in the summer so he doesn’t think parking is an issue. Although the paper said that the lease was on the agenda for the school meeting, he doesn’t think they are planning to do anything until CRRA comes back to them requesting it. It is currently not on the agenda.

Betty Moore thanked Mr. Roth for allowing everyone this time to express their opinion and to talk to them about the Aquatic Feasibility Study.

Mr. Roth, Mr. Woodhead, and Mr. Steff thanked people for coming out. The meeting ended at 9:20 PM.

Enc.    - Sign-in Roster
            - Email from a resident who was unable to attend
            - Mr. Voigt’s prepared statement 

Meeting Summary prepared by Diane Ishler, CRPR Admin. Assistant - 31 Aug 04

The CRPR Authority is a publicly-funded, municipal agency serving 5 municipalities since 1966. The Authority also maintains 501c3 status.
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